A joint statement issued today on behalf of the largest business representative bodies in West, Mid-West and South-West, representing 2,787 member organisations and supporting 199,500 said:
“The Chambers regret to hear the announcement by Aer Lingus of its intention to close its base at Shannon and temporarily at Cork. We acknowledge that the aviation sector has been devasted by the pandemic.
“International air connectivity is critical for the overall national economic recovery and of huge importance to our members. It is imperative that Ministers Ryan and Naughton work closely with Aer Lingus and stakeholders to set a clear pathway for resumption of meaningful levels of activity with absolute urgency.
“Government has already been presented with business cases and a financial model to enable the speedy restoration of connectivity to Ireland’s regional airports. The Aer Lingus decision on Shannon and Cork demonstrates the need for immediate implementation of these plans.
“Airlines need to be supported through this difficult period to ensure that, when public health guidance allows, they are in place to meet the demand in the regions for services which we are confident will return.
“National aviation policy should also require that a portion of all restored and new routes into the country are spread across the regional airports, Cork, Kerry, Knock and Shannon. Returning to a concentration of Dublin receiving 96% of all new passengers coming into Ireland when other airports are under-utilized is not an option for the regions.
“We would ask the Ministers to seize the opportunity to reset air access to the country and to ensure that aviation policy aligns with the goals of project Ireland 2040.
“The regions outside of Dublin have been worst hit economically by the pandemic because of a greater reliance on tourism and hospitality. We cannot afford a lag in recovery time. It needs to happen in the regions as well as in Dublin and route connectivity is a critical piece of that recovery.”